Did you know about links between medieval Gwadar and Muscat?
Updated: May 16
The Kech-Makran coastal region of Balochistan held immense importance during medieval times.
It was an important link between the Middle East and western India, and its ports were part of the main commercial and financial networks and political and commercial relationships between Europe and the East.
There is evidence of the Baloch officers in service in the Omani Al Yarubi, as early as the 16th and 17th centuries. These officers were known as “Jam’dar, " meaning “Masters of the Gate”.
For the Arabs of Oman, these Balochi corps constituted the backbone of their military might, the shawkah, an indispensable tool in the conquest and maintaining of power.
However, with Al Bu Sa'idi, the Baluchis and the coastal strip of Makran became an institutional part of the Omani forces and power system in the 18th century.
It was during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that all of Europe began to eye Makran due to the crucial strategic role of the port of Gwadar in slave, ivory, and spice trade between East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Central Asia.
The British were disappointed not to find an ally in Persia, Napoleon had sworn to take India and defeat the British, and Tsarist Russia continued to grow. Thus, amid this political crisis, Makran became a subject of intense exploration for the British.
Despite the Sultans' reluctance to cede control of the region, records indicate that they were amenable to discussions with the British throughout the roughly 200 years that Gwadar was an enclave of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman.
In 1784, Nasir Khan of Kalat, the ruler of Baluchistan's Makran Coast, granted Suln bin Amad the territory, including the Gwadar port. Suln bin Amad, an unsuccessful candidate for the throne of Oman at the time, started using Gwadar as a base for incursions on the Arabian shore across from it. After assuming absolute control in his native country in 1792, he finished annexing Gwadar to Oma.n.